CIHJ Update: Health reform inching forward… February 24, 2010 …but still lacks justice for immigrants.

On Monday, President Obama put forth a compromise health reform proposal in advance of the February 25th Health Care Summit, an attempt to break congressional gridlock on passing final legislation. The proposal, available on the White House website, relied largely on the Senate-passed bill as a template. Click here to see the Kaiser Family Foundation’s comparison of the House bill, Senate bill, and President’s proposal. After the Summit, congressional leaders could move quickly to pass legislation, perhaps through a mechanism called the “reconciliation process.” The next few days may be our last opportunity to influence reform in support of fair and inclusive policies for immigrants. That’s why it’s so important for you to make your voice heard. The current health reform proposals are not perfect. They do little to eliminate barriers to health coverage for legal immigrants, and they restrict access to affordable coverage for undocumented immigrants. Even so, passing a bill now and building on its strong points in the future remains the best option for advancing healthcare justice. Please call the White House, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi to urge the passage of health reform that treats immigrants fairly. Specifically, insist that final legislation: • Removes the five-year Medicaid waiting period for lawfully residing immigrants, and • Allows undocumented immigrants to purchase private health insurance through the Exchange. Contact Information President Barack Obama, The White House, 202-456-1414 House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (CA), 202-225-0100 Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (NV), 202-224-3542 Background As far as we know, provisions for immigrant inclusion in the President’s proposal currently mirror those in the Senate-passed bill. In that bill, there was some movement in the right direction: most lawfully residing immigrants, while still subject to the five-year Medicaid bar, would be eligible for subsidies for Exchange coverage on the same basis as citizens. But it still excludes many immigrants, because it: • Fails to remove the five-year waiting period for legal immigrant adults in Medicaid; • Prohibits undocumented immigrants from purchasing health insurance at full cost in newly-created private health insurance Exchanges; and • Prohibits undocumented immigrants from receiving subsidies and non-emergency health care programs such as Medicaid and CHIP.

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